And the only thing more volatile than the economy and the path of the virus is the rantings of Donald Trump.
For awhile, it seemed the president had closed the door on any stimulus before the election. “Well I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out,” Trump said in an interview on Oct. 8 on Fox Business Network. “Now they are starting to work out, we’re starting to have some very productive talks.”
It’s actually Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who have been doing the talking. But those negotiations until Friday afternoon mostly centered on renewing aid to airlines, which furloughed more than 30,000 workers when their last round of payroll supports expired Oct. 1, and another round of $1,200 stimulus checks that Trump could put his name on.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has warned that too little government support “would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”
It’s urgent that economic stimulus go beyond checks for individuals and deal with the serious budget crises faced by cities and states that employ millions of Americans and provide critical services in the pandemic.
The chairmen of the Massachusetts House and Senate Ways and Means Committees are trying to figure out how to deal with the ripple effect of those revenue shortfalls absent federal help to bolster what in January was projected to be a $44.6 billion budget.
House Chair Aaron Michlewitz, addressing a State House hearing, said lack of federal aid “will have a drastic negative impact on the commonwealth’s finances.”
Senate Chair Michael Rodrigues said lawmakers must put forward a budget “as soon as possible,” adding, “In the face of glaring federal dysfunction and an ongoing public health emergency, we have a job to do.”